John McCain would like people to stop talking about how his campaign is staffed with loads of lobbyists, so he's back to bashing lobbyists, calling them predatory (does that make lawmakers rodents?) and promising that no one will ever works for him will ever lobby again! Probably. Right after his staffers get around to explaining to him that all Dungeons & Dragons aficianados are totally Democrats even when they aren't. Luckily, I have someone better at role-playing games than I am — Jason Linkins, a political/media blogger from HuffPo and expert snark-master — to help me understand why it is that John McCain hates your dungeon master's freedom.
MEGAN: Hey, Jason, what's up? I feel like we should've met at a coffee shop to do this or something, only it would've required me changing out of my pajamas, and possibly showering. That breaks the blogger code. JASON: It would have required me to forsake my Monster Manual and 20 sided dice. MEGAN: You could've brought it, I would've IM'd an ex-boyfriend from college to get an explanation, though. JASON: Ahh, well. I'm referencing Michael "Punk Ass" Goldfarb's D&D remark from the other day. That's apparently the only wicked cut down he's brought to his vaunted job of McCain ABBA Blogger. MEGAN: Actually, I feel like D&D guys might've been more for McCain than against until that crack, given the D&D players I knew back in the day were all vaguely Republican. JASON: But anyway, as a former lobbyist yourself, what species of raptor were you? MEGAN: I would like to be a falcon, thank you. JASON: Yes. A noble peregrine. Well, reading up on McCain's assertion that lobbyists are "birds of prey," I am forced to conclude that the man is utterly fucking nutlog. MEGAN: That's what brought you to that conclusion? IHell, the way McCain is bashing on lobbyists these days with half his staff coming out of the community and lots of his money, his supporters must be too. Either that, or lobbyists are so used to bending over and taking it that they don't even feel it anymore. JASON: Randy Scheunemann lobbied McCain something on the order of 71 separate times, so there was obviously plenty of kestrel feed laying around the McCain office. MEGAN: Or a hot intern. JASON: Or Vicki Iseman! But what's really, TRULY MINDBENDING is McCain saying that members of his administration were going to face a lifetime ban from lobbying. You read things like that, and have to conclude that McCain thinks Americans are straight up rubes. (And, given the fact that his offshore drilling scam seems to be popular, he maybe isn't wrong.) But how the fuck does the man propose he enforce a lifetime ban on his staff? Randy Scheunemann carried a goddamn SHOTGUN to the Hill once! Is he going to HAUNT THEM from beyond the grave? MEGAN: The bigger question for me is where will he get staff from if not lobbyists? Or how fucking old is his staff going to be if they don't care about lobbying afterwards? Is he planning on having the entire White House staffed with AARP members? But, yes, I do think most politicians talk down to Americans and think they're rubes. Or, at least, don't bother to take the time to talk through issues in an understandable way because the media is all like "candidate talks for 25 seconds" and then "anchor speaks for 2 minutes." JASON: Yes. And I can see this crazy, inapplicable proposal for a ban being reported as foundational information about McCain, as opposed to something that ought to have people saying, "This is just not credible. This is pure fantasy." I'd point out, that McCain says:
"As long as you have earmarking and pork-barrel spending and bridges to nowhere and money for DNA of bears in Montana and museums and all that, then you're going to have lobbyists...They'd all be out of business – most of 'em would be out of business if we stopped pork-barrel and earmark spending."
MEGAN: Which is also pure fantasy. I never once lobbied for an earmark. Hell, I never once lobbied for a company or organization or firm that lobbied for earmarks. JASON: Right, the devil is in the details. I have to imagine that for every lobbyist on the Hill who's in their ear, begging for a crazy-ass bridge, there's a hundred who are trying to influence a range of structural votes on health care policy. I'm under the impression that lobbyists don't conceal their Great Works within obscure earmarks. You should note that the man actually voted for the bear DNA. But, I'm sure that McCain supported that bill out of a sincere love of bear baby batter, and not because Randy Scheunemann held him at gunpoint! MEGAN: Oh, of course he did. I mean, that's part of the thing of the lobbyist hatred, part of what I learned doing the "Ask a Lobbyist" column. People think lobbyists are the people lobbying for things that they disagree with, and the people lobbying for things they agree with are, like, issue advocates. JASON: Right. Iraqis are "terrorists," South Ossetians are "freedom fighters." MEGAN: But, if we're on the topic, I gotta say, we have to play fact-check with Obama's ad tying McCain to Abramoff. Because, and I'm sure you recall, McCain's the reason Abramoff got caught. Period. JASON: Yes. The ad is a "smoke-to-fire" attempt at making the same sort of assertion that the McCain camp countered with: Obama and Ayers. Here, they get Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff and McCain all brewing up some Senate committee potboiler. MEGAN: The one time I met Ralph Reed in person, the only thing that impressed me about him was how deeply stupid he was. And, I worked as a lobbyist in Washington. That's saying something. JASON: Now, you can see why they'd run this sort of ad. The left is practically begging for attacks on McCain! But Obama says he wants to fight with "the truth." And there's plenty of fertile ground to plow before you start building castles in the air. MEGAN: I mean, why not "McCain's so rich, he doesn't know how many castles he even owns."? Or "McCain wants a draft!"? JASON: Oy. Ridiculous. But wait! We'll get back to the houses, but here's something I plan on pointing out today. That draft story? ThinkProgress and those guys GOT IT WRONG. MEGAN: Oh, I'm sure, but it's way less wrong than "McCain <3 Abramoff". But please explain. JASON: Well, the big pull quote was this:
QUESTIONER: If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell. [Applause] MCCAIN: Ma'am, let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said.
But, if you go back and look at the video, that's not at all what the questioner was leading to with her question. I'm paraphrasing here, but she was basically saying: "Senator McCain, I support you in wanting to chase bin Laden to the Gates of Hell. I have various family members who have served in the military. But our soldiers come home to broken down hospitals and barracks. Disabled veterans face terrible conditions upon their return. The support infrastructure for veterans is FUBAR. It's a sorry state of affairs that illegal aliens can get health care, but these soldiers who we pat on the back and tie yellow ribbons for get squat. If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell." So, if we're being honest, we have to admit that the question is not: "WILL YOU REINSTATE THE DRAFT?" But rather, "If something isn't done about the lousy treatment of veterans, no one's going to sign up to fight for this country." MEGAN: I mean, yes, it's the 100 years in Iraq thing, but that's stuck pretty well, too. Stupid slips that don't mean what they sound like are what the Republicans use to win races. If you're going to wrestle with the pig, you might as well resign yourself to getting dirty. JASON: Now, there's still plenty of room to go after McCain on this regard! This is the guy who wouldn't support the new G.I. Bill, which is geared to address and correct some of these problems, and give veterans a shot at a first-class future for agreeing to go and be maimed on our behalf. And once it became clear that this bill was going to pass with veto-proof majority, McCain started taking credit for it. This is a man who's just not serious about the issue the questioner raises. MEGAN: I mean, wasn't he just kowtowing to his right about government spending? To the people that think no government spending is good? Who, amusingly, tend to be pretty hawkish in terms of foreign policy, and hawishness is expensive. JASON: But, in this case, this glib, and rather false assertion, that McCain agreed to the reinstatement of the draft at a town hall, gets blasted out instead. Bad move. And it's really not the same as 100 years in Iraq. Because he does support a long-term presence in Iraq. He honestly believes that we are on the verge of affecting some Korea-style arrangement there. MEGAN: Of course, one of the reasons we have an arrangement in Korea is that there was never a peace accord signed. We're still fucking all technically at war. Plus Kim Jong Il is craaaaazy. JASON: All of which is true. MEGAN: But, hey, we're totally going to withdraw soon, though not before Biden's son gets deployed. Is it just me, or does it seem like the only Senators with sons that have been deployed are Dems (Webb, Johnson, Biden)? JASON: No, there are Republicans with kids in Iraq. McCain, for starters. Also Kit Bond, I think? Todd Akin of Missouri. MEGAN: You're right about Kit Bond. JASON: I sort of think a draft would be a good thing! If I could flip a switch right now that put our elected and appointed leaders' children and grandchildren in harms' way, I'd do it right now! Now, that Wall Street Journal article...at first I was like, "Woah." But then I started reading the fine print:
"President George W. Bush is almost certain to accept the agreement, according to U.S. officials. The administration believes that the deal doesn't require congressional approval and won't present it to U.S. lawmakers."
Right there, I know that something sketchy is going on. MEGAN: But if it doesn't change McCain's mind, or Kit Bond's for that matter (a big supporter of waterboarding, that one), what good would it do? JASON: A glimmer of concern might light in their brains? They might come to see their decisions in some other light than abstract? I know: I'm a hopeless dreamer.